“Indivisible,” the latest release from Pure Flix — purveyors of fine copy-and-pasted sermons disguised as real movies and the odd “Donald Trump is the Second Coming; liberals are the real Nazis” propaganda piece — opens with stock footage of soldiers at war set to audio of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Not only does this have literally nothing to do with the rest of the film beyond the reality that “Indivisible” does, in fact, feature both soldiers and children, it actually does the film that follows a disservice. “Indivisible” isn’t good by any standards other than the incredibly low bar Pure Flix has set for themselves, but it also isn’t, as that opening would imply, “God’s Not Dead 4: God Goes to Iraq.”
Rather, it follows the true story of Darren Turner (Justin Bruening, “He’s Out There”), an army chaplain who was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and returned home with PTSD that threatened to tear his family apart. For the first time in their company’s history, Pure Flix has stumbled upon a movie that’s about something: the effect deployment can have on families. If you think that sounds like something the people best known for a trilogy of movies based on the most generic worship song in existence are in no way qualified to handle, you would be right. Pure Flix drops the ball on what could have been an inspiring movie by continuing to misunderstand their core message, but before everything falls apart, “Indivisible” does show some promise.
Most of this is down to the cast. As with last year’s surprisingly watchable “The Case for Christ,” “Indivisible” proves to be genuinely well-acted, especially by Sarah Drew (“Grey’s Anatomy”) as Darren’s wife Heather. In a role that director David G. Evans (“The Grace Card”) does everything to help her with — Heather’s scenes are shot like a commercial for a for-profit community college — Drew manages to build the only character in the film with some sort of internality. Sure, her husband deals with PTSD, but that’s mostly communicated through external means and out-of-nowhere bursts of sudden anger. Drew’s character isn’t in the spotlight nearly as much, yet due to her performance, Heather feels much more fully formed.
Pure Flix does deserve some credit for at least attempting to make a movie about faith in times of war as well. There’s plenty of the clunky sermonizing we’ve come to expect, but the fact that it’s in service of an idea rather than just preaching to the choir goes a long way. That’s definitely not high praise, but then, most of what works about “Indivisible” works because of just that; other Pure Flix films have failed so completely that when their newest reaches even baseline competence, it’s a win. Every Muslim character is not treated as a terrorist; there’s one who plays a mourning father. Good for you, Pure Flix! The atheist character is not struck by a car and killed for his sins on the way to a Newsboys concert; he becomes a Christian, then he’s killed. Good for you, Pure Flix! The abused wife does not learn that she is the problem; she’s only half the problem. Good for you, Pure Flix! At this rate, by the mid-2020s, you may even start exhibiting basic human empathy!
Then we come to the second half, where “Indivisible” has to provide commentary on a difficult subject and finds it just isn’t up to the task. Darren doesn’t have PTSD after he returns; it concludes. But not really. He’s just not believing in God hard enough. This is Pure Flix’s biggest problem: their constant Biblically incorrect preaching that Christianity can and will solve all your problems before you can say “Jesus.” That’s not how faith works. That’s not how the Bible even says faith works. Speaking as a Christian who has dealt and continues to deal with mental illness, it can be useful when dealing with these things. It can be a comfort. It can be a guiding system. It isn’t, like “Indivisible” argues, a one-stop shop for curing all your ails, and until these films can understand that, they will continue to come close yet still fail as “Indivisible” does.